The Admirals won 4-0 on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday night. Magnus Hellberg picked up his tenth career AHL shutout for the Admirals as the team successfully dusted themselves off and returned the favor to the Griffins who earned the shutout against them not even twenty-four hours earlier.
It only took the Admirals 1:24 of this game to accomplish what was so painfully difficult the night before, score. Nathan Paetsch was called for a slash forty-seven seconds into the game and the Admirals capitalized. Colton Sissons won a draw that fell back to Brendan Leipsic who set up Taylor Aronson for a point shot. As the puck flew in on Jonas Gustavsson it deflected off of Sissons stick blade and in for his thirteenth goal of the season. The goal by the Admirals ended a shutout streak for the Griffins that lasted 141:56 of ice time over the course of four games.
Last night there was an unfortunate injury to Rich Clune after an awkward collision into the boards. Tonight, the same story could be said for defenseman Jimmy Oligny. In the second period he lost an edge on a play back to his own net and hit the end boards skates first. As Oligny’s body went upright it appeared that his right knee bent in on itself at a bad angle. He was helped off the ice and did not return to the game.
While the injury to Oligny was a sad sight it seemed to spark the Admirals. They immediately scored following the injury stoppage on Pontus Åberg’s fifteenth goal of the season. Austin Watson was set up behind the Griffins net and caught Gustavsson focusing a bit too much on the left wing. Watson passed over to Åberg on the right wing and the Swede scored on a tight angle shot into a nearly wide open net.
There was also a very wild shift in the second period for Kevin Fiala that turned him into a targeted man for the rest of the frame. After exchanging crosschecks with the much larger Brennan Evans, Fiala skated down to neutral ice and attempted to deliver an elbow to the head of Andy Miele right in front of the penalty box. Thankfully for Miele the elbow missed, but it was a bizarre shift for Nashville top selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.
With a power-play expiring, and 1:32 remaining in the second period, Sissons was able to secure a second deflection goal on the night for his fourteenth goal of the season. Aronson’s shot from close to the right point appeared to take a deflection off of Landon Ferraro before bouncing in off the leg of Sissons in front of the net.
Trailing 3-0 with a power-play at hand, the Griffins made an aggressive decision empty their net with more than seven minutes left in regulation. The Admirals first killed off the penalty and then secured a long range empty net tally by Ian White for the dagger. It’s White’s second goal on the AHL this season but first scored since joining the Admirals.
Magnus Hellberg’s stellar form this season showed up yet again tonight. He stopped all twenty-six of shots he faced and punched in his tenth career AHL shutout. Those league best goaltending numbers for Hellberg continue to get better and better.
This game capped off a white hot month of January for the Admirals. Remember how frustrating December was? The Ads managed to go 2-6-3-1 that month and following it up by going 10-2-0-0 in January. Outstanding, if I do say so myself.
Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Miikka Salomaki (upper body), Rich Clune (lower body), and Johan Alm (upper body). It was also a scratch heavy lineup for the Griffins who had players getting sick on the overnight bus trip back to Grand Rapids: Czarnowczan, Pulkkinen, Chouinard, Nosek, Aubry, Athanasiou, and Nagle were all out tonight.
Thoughts on tonight’s response? Shall we mark up yesterday’s dud as an All Star break hangover? How important has Hellberg been to the Admirals this season? Could he possibly get an NHL call up soon?